The Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, the Redmond devices and services company’s first-ever computer, was released a month ago to a fairly good critical reception (read our review here). Many people, however, have been hesitant to jump on the Windows RT bandwagon, despite the obvious appeal of the hardware. But come January, you’ll be able to pick up a Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro for less than a grand.

Calob recently wrote about the appeal of Windows 8′s tablet/laptop hybrid form-factor and its potential role as an “iPad killer,” and I completely agree with him. But while the Surface RT is excellent, it does have a few limitations: namely, the inability to install legacy desktop applications like Photoshop, Outlook (the rest of the Office suite is included for free), and others. The Surface Pro changes this, offering many of the same features and a very similar form-factor.

Scheduled for release sometime in January 2013, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be offered in the 64GB and 128GB varieties for $899 and $999, respectively. That’s just $200 more than the top-of-the-line Surface with Windows RT. I was concerned that the Surface Pro would be priced somewhere around the $1,200 range, so this pricing is quite exciting.

In addition to the tablet itself, your 9-10 Benjamins will get you a Surface pen with Palm Block technology, an Intel Core i5 processor, a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200 (2560 x 1440 while using video out via the Mini Display Port), and USB 3.0. The rest of the specs are nearly identical to the Surface RT, aside from an increase of 4.2mm in thickness, an additional 0.5lbs of weight, and a bigger 42.5W-h battery.

There are, however, a few downsides. Unlike the Surface RT, the Surface Pro does not include a free copy of Office 2013 or – believe it or not – a Touch or Type Cover. For a device that’s even closer to a full-fledged PC than the first Surface, the exclusion of the trademark cover is surprising. Thankfully, they can be purchased separately for $119-129. To be fair, the low-end Surface RT model doesn’t include a Touch Cover either, and not bundling it with the Surface Pro allows customers to choose which keyboard they’d prefer.

Will you be picking up a Surface with Windows 8 Pro in January? Let us know in the comments and stop by the forums for further discussion.

[The Microsoft Blog via enConnected]